This below the knee cream silk dress has an asymmetrical hemline and hand embroidered floral designs on the front and back of the skirt. It was designed by Akira Isogawa of Sydney and is part of a collection of Australian and international designer clothing, shoes and bags from the personal wardrobe of Catherine Martin.
Catherine Martin is one of Australia's outstanding creative talents, working as a production designer, film producer and costume designer on significant film, theatre and event productions including Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, La Bohème and Australia. Martin's creative collaboration with husband Baz Luhrmann has produced a visually lush, musically exhilarating, poetic style of storytelling.
Her personal wardrobe reflects Martin's romantic style, knowledge of fashion history and passion for handcrafted, artisanal textiles; an aesthetic that is also a key part of her designs for film, theatre, interior design and fashion. The collection includes outfits Martin wore to premiers and award nights including the evening dress she wore to the 74th Academy Awards where she received two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.
Catherine Martin's personal wardrobe enhances the Museum's contemporary fashion and dress collection with significant examples of work from Australian and international designer labels including Easton Pearson, Collette Dinnigan, Willow, Akira Isogawa, Chanel, Mui Mui, Jill Sander, Comme des Garçons and Prada.
In addition the Catherine Martin collection includes a group of costumes and accessories from the films Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Australia (2008), set models from the film Australia (2008) and costumes and accessories from the theatre production of Puccini's opera La Boheme (2003). A key feature of these productions is the costuming and sets which reflect the extensive research and inventive interpretation of references drawn from across history and cultures. These costumes enhance the Museum's existing collection of costumes for the Baz Luhrmann films Strictly Ballroom (1992) (92/1900-92/1939) and Moulin Rouge! (2001) (2008/199/1-17).
This collection reflects the diverse approaches Martin and her team take in costuming film and theatre productions. In Romeo + Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo wears an off the shelf Prada shirt that has been skillfully distressed to appear dirty and bloodied, while his companions the Montague boys appear in colourful screenprinted and handpainted Hawaiian shirts. The Australia costumes reflect the design and production teams' careful research into 1930s and 1940s clothing which they have skilfully re-interpreted and reproduced for the film. In contrast the costumes for the four key characters from La Bohème are an eclectic mix of contemporary mass market workwear, designer labels and newly created garments.
- Glynis Jones, Curator, Fashion and Dress, December 2010